Wednesday, May 28, 2014

summer begins

We spent the weekend in Lake Geneva with my fam.  I was pretty useless for the first day or so since I had a wicked stomach bug/food poisoning situation but I was actually grateful it happened over the weekend as I was out and no way could have handles the kiddos by myself. It was still great to usher in the summer with some sun and actual sweat! The lake was FREEZING but the girls still went in. Anni even got brave enough to try to swim out to the floating island necessitating Jason to jump in the water in his clothes to save her.  Luckily he remembered to chuck his brand new work iphone and wallet at me on his way in. She is a great swimmer but the water was so cold she "ran out of breath."  Always a bit exciting around here folks.

my men.

photo taken moments before Anni completely freaked out and needed rescuing.

have I mentioned lately that this man is yummy?

Hope you had a fabulous Memorial day weekend.
Bring more of this summer stuff on...we are ready!

Friday, May 23, 2014

now and this

I want to embrace the sunshine and frolic outdoors since it is finally nice y'all!! But there is just too much going on in my limited mental space today.  Our little house guest made his way back home this morning and we were blessed to host him (and exhausted to be sure). I actually think a great new tag line for Safe Families should be "You life is already pure chaos...why not add one (or a few) more?" The girls again blew me away with their ability to be hospitable and I even overheard, "you can pick the snack first since you the guest." Seriously are these MY children? My children who normally will head butt, throw elbows, and fight to the death for the last rice krispie treat.  I'm saying. I see Jesus in them when we stretch ourselves and for that I am grateful. Praying blessings on his family!

A full house has meant a tired Mama and the non-stop-ness (sure it is a word) of the last week has left little time for thinking and processing all that is happening but today there are some quiet moments again. So I grabbed an iced coffee and am hiding in the office for a few minutes.  Instead of tossing all night I am sitting here listening to Pink and Third Day and allowing my emotional though vomit to spill from my finger tips.

Today the day is feeling long and thoughts and worries that won't seem to rest flood my mind.   My brain hurts from playing out every possible outcome over and over.  There are big changes on the horizon, hovering, and refusing to be pushed back any longer. I have such a hard time with change. AGAIN. I know it may not seem like that to someone peeking in from the outside but it is so hard and makes me want to hid and curl in the fetal position.  And I am again wondering why it has to be now and this. We are moving and leaving in some ways all that we know again.  I have gone through stages of complete resistance, sobbing at any given moment, and acceptance-ish.  All in the same day.  I know; poor Jason. We all know the Lord has called to him to a special task of being married to me. But I am grateful we are in it together and through fasting and prayer we feel like God has given us a clear direction for now.  It is just the steps required to follow that lead that are making my stomach feel queasy.
But I am also reminded that my stomach also feels queasy at the top of a roller coaster or as Evy says "Mama, push me sooo high my tummy feels funny!" and look at that pure joy.

And I know in my life following Him gives me pure joy.  It is why I want to tell everyone about His faithfulness, about His love, about His healing.  So much of life is taking risks and realizing that God shows up and IS faithful.  Not some of the time but ALL OF IT. How easily I forget and focus on me and the unknowns. How often I quench what He is doing because of fear or apathy.  His word says over and over, "do not fear" and "be courageous and take heart" and I think it is because we need to hear it. At least I do.  I know I need to hear His voice reminding me of His guidance and power and love because I often live like I have amnesia of what He has done.  Looking back at difficult times I can see the amazing refreshment God brought but IN those moments I was focused on the hardship, the change, the pain of being stretched and forced to grow.  But He says "do not become weary and discouraged in your soul" when I only see change and difficulties and newness.  New life requires the death of the old.  This journey keeps me constantly aware of my need for Him. I opened Jesus Today this morning and read, "When you are in a tough situation, your mind tends to go into overdrive. You mentally rehearse possible solutions at breakneck speed. Your brain becomes a flurry of activity! You scrutinize your own abilities and those of people you might call on for help. If you find no immediate answer to your problem you feel anxious. When you find this happening return to me and rest in My quietness.  Take time to seek my face and My will rather than rushing ahead without clear direction. I want you to have confidence in Me and My ways-patiently trusting in Me even when you can't see the way forward.  Whereas anxious striving drains you of energy, quiet confidence will give you strength. Keep communicating with Me about your situation, and be willing to wait.  In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.  Those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength." 
Um, Yes. I am pretty sure I am not the only weary one who needs to be reminded of this today.  Let's grab on to Him and be pushed so high our tummy feels funny because that is also where the horizon looks different, and the wind blows our hair back, and the sunshine warms our faces.

Friday, May 16, 2014

A Dance Recital

These girls threw down at the Design Dance recital on Saturday. I seriously live for this stuff! The parents were told we could sneak down to the front to take a few pictures as long as we were discreet. I seriously thought to myself 'discreet I am not' (nor have ever been) with my HUGE camera and you know I cannot resist screaming and hollering for my girls! I think I managed to tone it down to an acceptable level.

Evy's class opened the show with an awesome rendition of "Without You"

seriously this girl in a leotard kills me!! Plus she wanted stars on her face "cuz Mama stars is fancy for dancing." Totally.

love that mostly kids waved at their parents and did not pay attention. Ah, toddler dance classes. Bless these teachers!
Evy's class was called Jazznastics and involved a wee bit of tumbling. And by tumbling I mean the teacher flipping them over.

Anni was in Miss Maya's Hip Hop with a little break dancing thrown in and she worked it out! I love that she gives it her all. She was so excited she got to be in the front row.

Miss Maya is the coolest

Check out Anni in the cypher!! Woot! Woot!

these girls have been in dance together for 2 years

and Anni's friend from school joined the class this year and I think they have the 'we are hard core' posing down.

our man folk cheered the girls on

And all these amazing women came to support my girls. We felt so blessed! I can't get enough of our girls and their moves and I love to see them building confidence and sharing this experience with friends. But the bottom line: I'm so that obnoxious proud mama. And I like it.
Keep dancing y'all,

Sunday, May 11, 2014

a little on Delhi. India Part 3

I did not spend much time in Delhi but made sure I walked through Old Delhi's markets, visited the banks of the Yamuna River to see people bathing and praying there, and visited the Jama Masjid Mosque. Delhi can feel a lot like a blur with busy market streets that seem to carry you along almost with a current of folks headed to work, home, prayers, school, business, and everywhere! I made this photo to remember exactly how I felt in the Old Delhi market.

I found it impossible not to bump into everyone as my white girl self roamed the busy streets armed with my camera and a smile. It was an amazing introduction to India.
Please check out more of my images of Delhi on my Hawa Images blog here.

Walking across the narrow sand bags to view more of the river. It was definitely not the cleanest part of teh Yamuna.  
This woman called me over and painted a bindi on my forehead. I made a portrait of her you can see here. Thanks Tricia Lombardi for this image!

I was not the only one taking photos! I loved that people wanted cell phones shots of us everywhere we went.

One of my favorite parts of Delhi was exploring the Jama Masjid Mosque and just sitting among the people praying.  The mosque itself is massive and I felt so small inside the walls but as I sat and prayed that all of us, all people He knows and loves, would find hope and love and peace I was comforted by knowing that God has made Himself known to us; His creation. He is no longer apart from man but came and dwelled with us or as The Message puts it "moved into the neighborhood."  You can see pictures from the mosque here.

The night I arrived in Delhi it was raining and the streets were so busy.  I took in the smells and sights and tried to prepare myself for the next couple of weeks.  The driver that picked me up at the airport and took me to the hotel explained that the reason it was so loud on Delhi streets is because "India drivers go to 1st horn, 2nd brake, and then 3rd luck because we Indian drivers think we are very important." I sort of love that!  Delhi was all things urban: crowded, loud, dirty, bustling, busy and busting at the seams.  Yet she is also beautiful in her own hum of activity, people, and color. I hope to return someday to explore more of the city. India is such a diverse and beautiful place!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

on being a girl

This world is not kind to women.  My heart is so heavy this week after reading about the girls in Nigeria that were kidnapped from their school. You can read more here. In a region where few girls are able to continue their education they were seeking more and they were taken. Away from their families, their dreams, their life. I shared with my girls' not to scare them but to make them aware of the dangers of being a girl in the world today.  They immediately asked why this story was not on the news.  My girls are smart I tell you.  Everyone has a voice but the world is not very good at listening to some.  We asked God to make us hearers of other's voices.  We prayed together and we are teared up because others suffer so.  I never want to remove my kids from the world but I want to do what I can to protect my girls from the pressures of growing up too fast because this world will not cherish them they way their Father in heaven does.  God has been teaching me again and again that good intentions are not enough in this life.  I have many great intentions but I grow apathetic, lazy, or just plain tired and I allow life to get in the way.  I want to stand in the gap or my kids and allow them to know I am so for them.  I want them to know they are "wonderfully and fearfully made."  But I know I cannot just hope this happens and I cannot do it alone, I am so grateful I can join with other women that want to be present for our girls as they grow and learn and face challenges.  And we are committed to being there for each other's girls because as they grow they might not always be able to talk to us.  Girls need lots of women cheering them on.  I'm so blessed that I have sisters to join me in this journey of raising girls.

Some friends and I are embarking on a journey of being intentional about letting our girls know they are beautifully created and unique.   We are starting this by using this book to take our girls on 8 dates and talk about their true beauty, modesty, character, gifts, and how to live in this world.  Really, it is easy to do- you just need friends with a desire to love on girls.  We are doing some of the dates together (even across states- you do what you gotta do) and some dates I will do with just Anni. You can also find tons of resources (like MP3's to listen to before and after each date as well as scrapbook pages) at the secret keeper girl website here. We had our first kick off date this past weekend. It was a fancy tea and Annikah could not wait after I told her about it a few days before. They loved the fancy decor and each Mama and daughter got to keep their matching tea cups.

 As we spent a few hours with just our oldest daughters, eating treats, giving them hand massages, and talking about being created as a special and unique girl I felt so blessed.  I looked around the table at women I respect and love and girls that are so full of giggles, thoughts, and life.  I thought about the gifts required to pull that day off, most of which I do not possess, but because we are doing this in community we can each use our gifts or hospitality, teaching, decorating, organizing, etc to blend together to make a beautiful day for us all.

Thanks ladies for doing this together. I seriously don't know how I got blessed with such amazing friends I count as sisters! Praying this time forms special bonds that are nurtured over the next months and years.  It is hard to be a girl but Mamas and daughters are powerful life changing forces in this world. Yay for women!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Adventures in Jodhpur the "blue city" India part 2

Jodhpur was one of my favorite stops in India. The city is beautiful and even though it is pretty big it felt very different than Delhi. Large but not anonymous. Busy bit not crowded or hurried.  You could not walk around for more than an hour without an invite to tea or a meal. Did I mention I ate A LOT during my time there? Vides is the word for foreigner and although cultures are vastly and beautifully diverse you would have to try hard to feel foreign for long in India.

I posted images from my time there at Hawa Images here so please check them out!! I wanted to post some of the images that didn't make the cut but I still love because of the memory that click captured. Some of these images are also from my awesome team mates (thanks Tricia, Lisa, CJ, and Mitchell). One of the first full days in Jodhpur Lisa and I wandered around and accepted an invite to tea with this family.

They showed us the shrine in their home and made us fabulous warm, spicy tea while they asked us as many questions as their English allowed. We sat on their floor together and drank chai while the small kids added chaos by running around. Made me feel like home.

We asked about their family and discovered the woman in orange was a elementary school teacher near by and one of the younger girls Sareem (of the far left in this photo) was an excellent student and loved showing off her English skills. This family even said they thought I was a god! to which I quickly responded that God was big and I am sooo small! I love that so many cultures love to talk about faith. Such rich opportunities to pray, be blessed, and be a blessing!

This beautiful woman is Sidiria and we walked by her home as she was rolling local cigarettes to sell in town. After a few moments she invited us in and her daughter made us chai and then asked if I would stay for some henna.  Her son and daughter are both studying and hope to open their own business together.

Sidiria showed us around her home and gave me a bindi before making us chai.  This is the location in her home for "making pretty." Just love.

Ravina; her daughter, was soft spoken but so kind and allowed me to leave with this beautiful reminder of our time together....

I loved that every where we went we were not the only ones taking photos! I now am in the photo feed of MANY cell phones in India. "this is the crazy white lady I met..." so the story begins...

One afternoon I wandered around by myself and ended up in a wholesale areas for buying and selling textiles.  I met this woman who was in town from a smaller village to stock up on fabric to sell at her shop. She loved looking at my photos from home and then took me around with her to get some scarves and dresses for my girls.  At one point we were walking up some very shady looking stairs and down a dark alley but ended up in a huge warehouse shop for dresses and fabric.  I've learned again and again that God will provide friends where ever you go.

The day before we left Jodhpur we were walking through the narrow streets and an older gentleman named Radhey was standing outside his home with a little girl.  He invited us in and told us his wife would make us some chai.  We accepted and upon entering realized he then woke her up! I gotta say I would not be feeling it at that moment but she was happy we were there and she sat with us while he actually made us some chai.  The grandmother; Sontosh and her husband watch their granddaughters while their daughter and daughter in law work at the high court in the city.  We got to check out the view from their roof (see Hawa Images) while we waited until the rest of the family arrived home after work. I think it must have been so funny to come from a day at the office to find white folks resting on your couch :) But after many early mornings and lots of walking it was a welcome break and great visiting time.  They said we can stay with them when ever we are back in Jodhpur.  Please join me in praying healing for the smallest granddaughter Pari as she has hearing loss that will require surgery. May God bless this family!

Jodhpur is a must in India. The blue houses are an amazing backdrop to the colorful and welcoming people. I loved my time there. Please check out more images from my time there here.